Hello Gianni, thanks for accepting our interview invitation. Congratulations for winning ASIWEEK competition in week #09/2023!
Q1: At first, congratulation that your nice image won #ASIWEEK. Can you introduce yourself to us?
Thank you ZWO for the recognition! My name is Ryan Martin. I’m 34 years old, and I work full-time as an Operations Manager for Amazon.com. I have a wife and a newborn baby who is currently 6 weeks old. I love astrophotography, and spending time with my family.
Q2: Why do you love astronomy?
I acquired my first telescope when I was 12 years old for Christmas from my dad. We took it out the first night the skies were clear, and we accidentally found Mars when we thought we were looking at a star. From then I was hooked.
Q3: When did you start astrophotography?
I started Astrophotography in January 2020. I’m just past three years into the hobby, and the constant steep learning curve has kept me drawn to the challenge that is astrophotography.
Q4: What gear do you use for astrophotography? Any pictures of them?
I’m currently using my dream telescope and setup. Takahashi FSQ-106EDX4, ASI6200MM Pro, Chroma 3nm SHO 2″, and Chroma 2″ LRGB. ZWO ASIAir, EAF, EFW, and 120mm Mini. All on an iOptron CEM70.
Q5: Your ASIWEEK image “The Blue Horsehead Nebula” was outstanding! How did you capture it?
To capture this image I planned a trip to a Bortle 1 location in Big Bend State Park, Texas. I drove 24 hours to reach the dark sky location and planned it around a new moon for perfect astrophotography conditions. I’ll never forget seeing the Milky Way from a bottle 1 location, and how the night sky gives you a shadow even when there’s no moon.
Q6: What do you think is the most difficult part of taking DSO images? How do you deal with it?
The most difficult part of taking DSO images is light pollution. Three years into the hobby I’ve overcome the bigger challenges of setting up my rig, acquiring images, and processing them. The continuing issue is light pollution. I’ve imaged in inner cities, and I’ve imaged in Bortle 1 locations. The difference is astronomical.
To overcome light pollution I image mainly in narrowband. Imaging in a narrowband is like magic. The light pollution disappears. The second step I take to overcome light pollution is to travel outside of my backyard. An hour’s drive will put me under Bortle 4 skies which are great for broadband imaging.
Q7: How long do you normally spend on processing after date acquisition? What do you think is the most difficult part of processing for you?
I typically spend around 5 hours processing each target, and I process more than one interaction to achieve the best possible result. Some of my results are actually two completely processed images combined together to show the better qualities of each image.
The most difficult part of post-processing for me is the amount of time some of the processes take to run. I want to press a button and be ready to do the next step in my post-processing.
Q8: How do you balance your work and hobby?
The ASIAIR Pro plays a very integral part in balancing work and my hobby. I’m able to set my rig up, power on the ASIAIR, polar align, focus, start guiding, then go inside and sleep if I need to for work while the little red box does the work for me.
Q9: What do you think the future of astrophotography if take the increasingly heavy light pollution and the rapidly developed technology into consideration?
The future of astrophotography is uncertain. Light pollution is the largest issue, and it is only getting worse. Our best chance of preserving the night sky is to keep dark sky sites protected, and keep as many of them active as we can.
Q10: Does your family like to join you when you are taking astrophotos?
My family does enjoy spending time out under the stars with my telescope. I usually set my rig up, start my imaging sequence with the ASIAIR Pro, then use a tripod and camera with my family and friends to show them how to capture nebulae with a basic setup. It’s a very fun and interactive time that the ASIAIR Pro allows me to do.
Q11: How many ASI cameras do you have? Which one is your favorite ASI camera and could you please tell us the reason?
I’ve owned a lot of ASI Cameras. My first ASI Camera was the 294MC Pro. The Second was the ASI 1600MM Pro, then I wanted color and mono, so I purchased a 2600MC Pro. After that, I upgraded the 1600MM Pro to the 2600MM Pro. Then one final upgrade landed me where I am today with a 2600MC Pro, 6200MM Pro, and two 120mm Minis for guiding.
Q12: What achievement have you made on astrophotography during the whole year? What goal do you have for the next year?
My largest achievement was earning ZWO’s #ASIWeek. I don’t enter my images into many platforms for recognition, but I do enjoy posting in the ZWO Facebook feed and sharing my images there with fellow ZWO’ers.
Q13: What’s your impression of ZWO? Is there anywhere you think we can do better?
ZWO is a great company with great customer service, and great high quality products and their shipping speeds if ordered directly from the site are always faster than expected.
I’m a huge fan of their social media presence, and how they’ve created a community of astrophotographers who all share their images online.